Archive for July, 2019

Statement on the President’s Remarks to Congress Members

Wednesday, July 17th, 2019

The office which he is privileged to occupy is normally associated with a person known as “the leader of the free world.”

The childish name calling emanating from this man’s mouth demonstrates his unfitness for this office.

His words of hatred, given his platform, will spread like a virus that has the capacity to destroy our beloved country.

And this from the leader of the party of Abraham Lincoln.

Remove “(COLORED)” From WWI Memorial

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019

Imagine you had a great grandfather who was involved in a great national cause, such as World War I, and to recognize his service, someone put his name on a memorial. But, unlike the others inscribed on that memorial, his name wasn’t listed in alphabetical or service order.

Instead, his name was put in a small grouping far below everyone else’s, as though those men in his group were somewhat less in value. And next to your great grandfather’s name, and the others, the memorial makers attached a racial descriptor, one that wasn’t necessary then, and shouldn’t be there today.

In Arlington, Virginia, there sits an old, worn memorial erected in 1931 that lists the names of the local men who died in service to their country in the Great War of 1914-1919. Thirteen men are commemorated, in total. Eleven of those names have only their branch of service listed after their names.

A few spaces below those eleven, after a blank area, are listed the names of the other two deceased Arlington servicemen, as if they were an afterthought. But they weren’t an afterthought. Because following the name of each of these remaining two men is inscribed, “(COLORED)”.

Why was that done?

In 2012 local discussion surfaced about perhaps changing that memorial, particularly because it was seen by some as offensive. But things were left alone. One commenter said the awkward wording was an example of “how life was at that time.”

You know what else “life at that time”, in 1931, consisted of? A Ku Klux Klan sign, erected on a road near County property. A sign that attacked a County Board candidate, who happened to be Jewish, with these words: “Let us show our strength. Defeat Albert H. C. for County Board. KKK.”

And when it stirred controversy, you won’t believe who promised to find the culprit, “Howard E. B., the exalted cyclops of Ballston Klan No. 4,” according to an article on page 13 of The Washington Post on Friday, October 31, 1931. The KKK cyclops said, “Any signs that have appeared have been erected by individuals and not by action of the organization.” He then promised not to remove the sign, but to offer a reward for apprehension of the culprit.

That’s how things were in Arlington, “at that time.” A Klan sign, and a Klan “cyclops” in Ballston, in our Arlington, Virginia.

Four years after that 2012 statement Arlington’s NAACP president called for a change that would show equal recognition; though again, nothing was done. The newspaper article, which noted the NAACP objection, began by suggesting that when the sign was erected, “few likely gave any notice” to how the names were arranged.

That may have been true of white people, but for those who live every day with suspicious eyes staring at them wherever they go, that order of names constantly called out again, “You don’t belong here.”

Last year the County accepted a grant to install at the memorial interpretive signs, the main goal of which would be “to provide historic context for the segregation of the names.”

Seriously? You would allow official segregation of those men to continue, and simply explain why they were thought less worthy?

Each day that sign remains (it has been reported to have been taken down in May to correct the spelling of one name), we are saying to every African American man, woman and child who walks by, “We didn’t think much of this Black family’s great grandfather then, and we still don’t today.”

Using the words Henry Louis Gates has said of Confederate monuments raised after Reconstruction, similarly, each day that “colored” plaque exists, it represents “a haunting symbol of oppression,” erected on County property that Arlington African Americans own, “that denies their humanity.” It may be small, but the hurt, the insult, is not.

However it is done, that sign must change, or it should be taken out of public display. We no longer see, nor accept, KKK signs publicly displayed, as one was in 1931; and we shouldn’t have this 1931 plaque on display either. To allow it to remain proclaims inequality. In 2019 Arlington, that is simply wrong.